So Jared Bernstein has a blog now that he has left the White House. Bernstein was Joe Biden's chief economic adviser. Over at FDL, Marcy Wheeler and David Dayen have both hailed the debut of his blogging career.
The BLS jobs report for April is out. I sometimes wonder why I even bother to analyze these reports anymore. It is like reading a fantastical story told with numbers that don't add up. This situation is encapsulated in the report's two big numbers. The report says the economy added 244,000 jobs in April. Yet the unemployment rate jumped from 8.8% to 9.0%. Now admittedly these two numbers come from different surveys. The jobs number comes from a poll of businesses whereas the unemployment figure is a poll of people. Read more about BLS Jobs Report, April 2011: The Economy is Either Up or Down
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has decided to exempt foreign exchange derivatives from clearinghouse requirements set forth in the already notoriously weak Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. On April 29, 2011, Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Mary Miller said there was no need because foreign exchange derivatives were a "well functioning market." There are just a few things wrong with that statement. Read more about Geithner Out to Help Big Banks at Our Expense, Again
On April 26, 2011, it was reported that there would be a major reshuffling of the neocon deck chairs in the Obama Administration's military and intelligence apparatus. Leon Panetta will be nominated to replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Panetta is currently CIA director. As DCI, Panetta did nothing to reform the CIA. Indeed he was a strong proponent of covering up Bush era illegalities there. Read more about Reshuffling the Neocon Chairs in the Obama Military and Intelligence Apparatus
On April 1, 2011, a quite appropriate date for what follows, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the office in the Justice Department which is supposed to supply advice to the Executive branch on whether what it is doing is legal, opined that
the President has the power to commit United States troops abroad,” as well as to “take military action,” “for the purpose of protecting important national interests,” even without specific prior authorization from Congress.
In today's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the two main stories for the March numbers are that 216,000 jobs were created (from the establishment survey) and the unemployment rate declined to 8.8% (from the household data). This is not entirely unexpected. As I have said in the last couple of years February-April have been, per the BLS, the best months for job growth. We need to wait for the June report covering May to get a real idea of where the economy is headed, that is that the economy is doing better than our eyes are telling us it is. Despite these two good numbers in today's report, I was struck by how many times the report stressed that there had been little or no change in most areas. Read more about BLS Jobs Report, March 2011: Is there really a there there?
No links to the New York Times on this one, and as few as possible in the future it looks like. Pinch Sulzberger has pushed through an electronic subscription form for the New York Times online. Starting March 28, 2011, i.e. in 10 days, you will get 20 free articles per month from the Gray Lady. After that, you will be given the choice of a $15/month subscription. More expensive subscriptions are available. Even if the economy weren't in the state it's in, I doubt this would be a good idea. Given the state of economy, it makes even less sense. Read more about Stupid, But Then This Is Pinch Sulzberger I'm Talking About
An ABC-Washington Post poll found that just 26% of Americans are optimistic about our system of government and how well it works. Some of us have been writing literally for years about the rising tide of populist anger in the country and how progressivism is the perfect vehicle to express that anger productively. Most Americans realize that many things in the country aren't working and progressivism has workable solutions to repair or replace much of what isn't. This should be the time for progressive organizing to take off, for us to dump the two legacy corporatist parties and strike out in a new direction. Read more about Nope, No Forest But There Sure Are A Lot Of Trees Around Here
Some things are harder to write about than others but I have found writing about the Bradley Manning case particularly difficult. I think it is because like healthcare it is an issue that really defines Obama and demonstrates how far we have fallen as a nation. This is item 245 of my Obama scandals list. Item 246 is about the Crowley remarks and firing. Read more about Brief Summary of the Bradley Manning Case
Scott Bloch was the former Bush-era deputy director and counsel to the Department of Justice's Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives. He then was appointed Special Counsel at the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC). This is an independent agency set up to protect whistleblowers and prosecute the use of civil service employees for political purposes. Bloch was a fairly common example of the Bush practice of choosing the fox to guard the henhouse. He is noteworthy because he became the target of whistleblower complaints by his own employees. Read more about Quick Summary of the Scott Bloch Affair
It's interesting to see how class warfare plays out in our society. Sometimes it seems there is a general call out to the apologists of our Establishment kleptocrats that more material is needed. The reason I say this is that I start seeing articles on different subjects but with the same general premise. Such at any rate is the case with these two op-eds by Fareed Zakaria and Paul Krugman. Read more about More Establishment Assholery
The two big stories in this report on the February numbers are that the economy created 192,000 jobs and the U-3 unemployment rate dropped below 9% to 8.9% for the first time in 22 months. I should point out that since the recession began in December 2007 the best months for employment have been in the February to May period (from the seasonally unadjusted numbers). So we could conceivably see a few more months of good news in employment and jobs. Read more about BLS Jobs Report, February 2011: Good News for February
The Academy Awards ceremony is that one night of the year where film actors and filmmakers get together to celebrate their craft. Well actually there are about a half a dozen other nights where they do this as well: the People's Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, not to mention all the specialized award get togethers from everyone from the cinematographers to the publicists, oh, and then there are the many major film festivals around the world, various world premiers, a multitude of personal appearances flogging the film and multi-million dollar campaigns to sell the films, and the DVDs, to the general public, and if there is enough buzz, to those who vote in these big awards ceremonies. Read more about Just For Fun: The Importance of Being Oscar